Friday, February 10, 2006

Animal Inferiority?

So let's recap:


It seems to me that the line between "us" and "them" is getting blurrier and blurrier every day. Every time an argument is made that trait x or ability y "sets us apart" from the "lower species", someone finds an animal that can do it.

We used to think it was language, but clearly other species can use language to communicate. We used to think it was tool usage, but even bird-brains have now been shown to make and use tools. We used to think it was our moral sense, but clearly animals express and feel our same range of emotions, both positive and negative.

Inevitably we retreat each time another conceit is knocked down, hiding behind more and more desperate rationales, deathly afraid of losing our moral superiority, until finally we have to resort to a flat declaration of unimpeachable faith to justify our domination of and superiority over other animals. "We're better becase we have a soul and they don't, even though we're alike in every other way" is pretty thin justification for how we treat them.

I've never understood the kind of person who only feels worthy by putting others down, as if insulting and degrading someone else inevitably raises their own value. It doesn't. All we really succeed in doing, like cruel sorority sisters demeaning the rejected pledge, is harming ourselves.

5 comments:

TexasAnnie said...

I actually think we are vastly inferior to animals. They don't gossip about each other (as far as we know), more often than us they have tight knit families that look out for each other; they don't invade other countries very often; they can live successfully out in the wild and we can't; many of them blindly adore us.....shall I continue?.....

Jill Phenix Avila said...

All dogs go to heaven... and cats and birds and dolphins and whales and fish and donkeys and horses and mules and cows and goats etc etc etc... =)

Denise said...

There are some humans who transcend the vile traits genetically imprinted on our cells, they are kind, loving and good just because it's the right thing to do. And I'm not talking about priests, rabbis or shamans. I'm talking about the ordinary person who works 40-plus hours a week in a dead-end job just to provide for his or her family, makes time to volunteer at the local church or civic pantry and cuts the neighbor's yard when they have surgery. I have seen people come to the aid of others in an emergency or times of grief, just because it's the right thing to do. On a regular basis, I see people being loving and kind and good when there's nothing in it for them. I can't sell human kind down the road when every day, I encounter kindness in some shape or form. One of the most vivid images I have comes from a simple scene I saw one afternoon. Two women were walking down the sidewalk toward each other. One had on slippers and an apron, a dish towel was slung over her shoulder. She'd been crying, and another woman was hurrying toward her. The two embraced and then the one woman put her arm around the crying woman and led her back to her house, hugging her the entire time. That one instance made me realize the connection we all have to each other and the kindness this woman showed to her friend. Just as in the animal kingdom, there are killers out there, but just as a dog will go into a burning building to rescue a person, a fire fighter does it almost every day. I love animals too, but I gotta stick up for we humans. Frailties and faults, we never stop trying to be better, and that's worth a lot in my book.

The Cow Whisperer said...

Just for the record, no Phillips has ever detonated a nuclear device.

Although my brother lit some of his own farts with a contraband cigar in college. This was the Reagan administration's very own "Cuban Missile Crisis." I'm writing a screenplay for Kevin Costner.

mark hebert said...

jeff, in the short time i have been reading your blog, i feel as though i'm getting to know you. what a joy that is! i'm proud of you!